Several people have sent me links to the new Weird Al Yankovic song “Word Crimes”, thinking I’d enjoy it, being in the business I’m in.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I cringed all the way through it and though I consider myself easy-going and open-minded, I was genuinely saddened by it. I think the time has come to make a statement about it.
I sit opposite children and adults day in and day out who have language disorders. They courageously struggle with the task of getting words on and off the page. They often work many times harder than those around them just to keep their heads above water in the classroom.
This song, which threatens physical violence towards people who don’t use a prescriptivist version of English is just plain nasty. I have a daughter with dyslexia and to think that some people find that funny, or her written output amusing, or her attitude ‘lazy’ or ‘stupid’ is beyond belief!
People have argued that it’s Al’s satirical take on people who are overly prescriptive, the so-called Grammar Nazis, but let’s not fool ourselves. The target of this song is clearly those who don’t use English a certain way, not those who correct them.
A very well written piece on the subject can be found here.
By the way, I also have a 12 year old profoundly disabled daughter who does in fact drool. Thanks, Al, for bringing international ridicule and disdain to two thirds of my children.